Amshavatarana is the sixth upa parva in the Adi parva of the Mahabharat. The story had been told by Veda Vyasa Rishi to his son Shuka muni, with the title Jaya. Hence, there should be such words and crazy incidences, regarding the true happenings, also pleasing to the children. Some western authors had re-written with the name Mahabharat and marked with a tag-note for enjoyment of aged people, or of more than eighteen years, and presented with exaggerations, without divinity. In this website, it is tried to present the story with the true essence of holiness as Veda Vyasa intended to present to his own son Shuka.

Major characters in Mahabharat
Major characters in Mahabharat

Vaishampayana Rishi, an expert of Yajurveda, had started to narrate the sixth upa parva to king Janamejaya. Vaishampayana had finished till justification of the rebirth of Vishnu and Adishesha in the previous upa parvas. As narrated in Srimad Bhagavatha Mahapurana, the time for the incarnation of Vishnu as Krishna in the Dwapara yuga had necessitated in the conference held in heaven. Then, Adishesha had got the role to take his rebirth on this earth as Balarama, an elder brother to Krishna. In Sanskrit, Amsha means a few portion of the angel’s power of the soul or life as perceived in this universal nature.

This world is treated as Martyaloka.  Heaven is above and Narakaloka is Nether or lower universes. In the fifth upa parva, it was told, the sons of Aditi were allotted to Heaven as Adityas or angels. Daityas or demons were sent to Naraka loka.

ते तं भुक्त्वा स्वर्गलोकं विशालं
क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्यलोकं विशन्ति।
एव त्रयीधर्ममनुप्रपन्ना
गतागतं कामकामा लभन्ते॥९.२१॥

Meaning: The angels or Devas experience the pleasures in the heaven till their virtues and allotted period expires. Then they were redirected into this earth. As per the desire of the nature, according to their deserving life status, they are inducted into living persons by rebirth on this earth. The above Sanskrit verse is taken from Bhagavad Gita; 9-21. This hymn is also a part of Mahabharat epic.

Similarly, on the expiry of the periods of sufferings in Naraka loka, the demons get up into the earth to take rebirth in their deserving life status; they were inducted into living persons on earth with freedom of earning virtues or sins by their actions.

When the life on earth for the human beings become unbearable due to the disturbances from others who had quit the path of Dharma, Vishnu, the protector, took the incarnation; in the current Mahabharat case, He had become Krishna. Previously, Ekalavya had born as son of Vyatraj and Sulekha and when grown up, he was blessed by Bhumi Devi, hence became a king. But he had not gained any virtues, got his rebirth in the forest as son of Nishad. He gained some virtues by donating Guru dakshina to Drona. Ekalavya was killed by Krishna and got moksha.

Similarly, some of the heavenly angels had born on this earth and some or their partial essence had assumed as animals, and some portion of their powers created new human lives. There are eight chapters with eight different thoughts as memorized by Vaishampayana, as follows:

  1. Vyasa had appeared before Vaishampayana, permitted to tell the story.
  2.  Janamejaya asked doubts and requested to justify the sufferings of scholars.
  3. Appreciation of Mahabharat and benefits of reciting or hearing this epic.
  4. Birth of Veda Vyasa Rishi, the author.
  5. Birth of all heavenly angels, humans or demons on this earth, as mortals.
  6. Nature with different phenomena on this earth and their creations.
  7. Creatures other than human beings, role in Mahabharat epic.
  8. Dharma getting predominated through the efforts of Krishna.

The important characters, their birth and role in Mahabharat:

Abhimanyu:He was the son of Uttara, grandson of Arjuna.
Adhirata:Father of Karna, charioteer of Bhishma, descendent of Yayati.
Adrika:Mother of Satyavati, wife of Uparicharu Vasu.
Ahilavati:Wife of Ghatotkacha, daughter in law of Bhima.
Amba:Elder daughter of king of Kashi.
Ambika:Second daughter of king of Kashi.
Ambalika:Third daughter of king of Kashi.
Arjuna:The middle Pandava, Krishna’s brother in law.
Ashtavakra:A young sage and ascetic Rishi.
Ashwatthama:Son of Dronacharya.
Astika:Son of Jaratkaru, a peace lover who stopped life sacrifices.
Barbarika:Son of Ghatotkacha, grandson of Bhima.
Bhishma:Devavrata, adopted by Shanthanu, got from Ganga River.
Bhishmaka:King of Vidarbha, father of Rukmini, father in law of Krishna.
Brihadratha:King of Magadha; had a victorious army regiment.
Chitrangada:Elder son of Shantanu and Satyavati; killed by a Gandharva in fight.
Chitrasena:King of Gandharva and son of Dritarashtra, fought with Kauravas.
Dadhichi:A sage who sacrificed his backbone to make the mace for Indra.
Draupadi:Wife of Pandavas, born by the rituals as daughter of king Drupada.
Drishtadyumna:Army chief of Pandavas, born by the rituals as son of king Drupada.
Dritarashtra:Father of Kauravas, the King of Kurukshetra but he was blind.
Drona:Teacher and good warrior, also sincere to Kaurava army.
Drupada:Friend of Drona in childhood but later became his enemy in war.
Durvasa:A sage, quick tempered, ascetic and provided boons to Draupadi.
Duryodhana:Elder son of Dritarashtra and cruel in nature; engaged in luxury life.
Dushala:Sister of Duryodhana, daughter of Gandhari, married to Jayadrata.
Dushasana:Second son of Dritarashtra and cruel in nature; also engaged in luxury life.
Dyu:Stole Nandini from the hermit of Vasishta , got rebirth as Bhishma
Gandari:Wife of Dritarashtra and jealous in nature; tied cloth over eyes always.
Ganga:River represented by and appeared as apsara to Dritarashtra.
Gauthama:A sage who managed his ancient school to teach many students.
Ghatotkacha:Son of Bhima and Hidambi, like a demon; attended war.
Gritachi:Apsara; Other four Apsaras are Rambha, Urvashi, Menaka, Tilottama.
Hidambi:Wife of Bhima, the Pandava; mother of Ghatotkacha, a demon.
Jarasandha:King of Magadha, he hated Krishna and Bhima had killed him.
Jayadrata:Husband of Dushala, Arjuna had killed him, like Karna.
Kamsa:Maternal uncle of Krishna, but as a demon; he intended to kill Krishna.
Karna:Abandoned son of Kunti, king of Angarajya, friend of Duryodhana.
Kichaka:Army chief of Matsya king Virata, brother of Sudeshna, killed by Bhima
Kripa:Royal teacher in the palace of Kurukshetra, a scholar and chiranjivi.
Krishna:Incarnation of God Vishnu in the Dwapara yuga, savior of Arjuna.
Kritavarma:Chief of army of Yadavas, Narayani sena, helped Ashwathama.
Kunti:Wife of king Pandu, mother of Pancha Pandavas, pleased Durvasa Rishi.
Nakula:The fourth of Pandavas, well in horse keeping, a good warrior.
Parasurama:An efficient warrior, supports Dharma always, punishes erring kings.
Radha (Karna’s):Wife of Adiradha, the charioteer of Bhishma, Karna’s foster mother.
Radha:Krishna’s wife; had several roles and names, incarnation of Lakshmi.
Sahadeva:The fifth or youngest of the five Pandavas, an expert in astrology.
Sanjaya:Charioteer of Dritarashtra, visualized Bhagavadgita, Krishna and full war.
Satyaki:Disciple of Arjuna, devotee of Krishna, saved Yudhishtira.
Satyavan:Son of Dyumatsena, king of Shalva, a karmayogi, married Savitri.
Satyavati:Wife of Shantanu, daughter of Uparicharu Vasu and Adrika.
Savitri:Lady who followed Yama to bring her husband Satyavan back to life.
Shakuni:He was the brother of Gandhari, played tricks inside the games of dice.
Shalya:King of Madra, uncle of Nakula and Sahadeva, killed by Yudhishtira.
Shantanu:King and foster father of Kripa, Bhishma; grandfather of Pandavas.
Sharadwan:Handsome sage and disciple of Gauthama Rishi. He could attract Apsaras.
Shishupala:King of Chedi slayed during coronation of Yudhishtira by Krishna.
Shikhandi:Born by rituals as a girl but grown as a king, discouraged Bhishma in war.
Shukracharya:Teacher of Bhishma and Kacha, knew mritasanjivini, father of Devayani.
Subhadra:Sister of Krishna and Balaram, Arjuna had married her. Abhimanyu’s mother.
Ulupi:Wife of Arjuna, daughter of serpent king, Kauravya; lived under water.
Urvashi:Other four Apsaras Rambha,  Menaka, Tilottama and Gritachi .
Uparichara:King of Chedi, always travelled over air; father of Satyavati.
Uttara:Daughter of Virata king, wife of Abhimanyu, mother of king Parikshit.
Vasishta:Son of Urvashi, propagated Vedas and Upanishads. Husband of Arundhati.
Vichitravirya:Son of Shanthanu and Satyavati, wives are Ambika and Ambalika.
Vidura:Prime minister in the court, legal expert, devotee of Krishna.
Vikarna:Third in Kauravas, son of Dritarashtra and Gandhari at Kurukshetra.
Virata:King of Matsya kingdom, wife Sudeshna, children Uttare and Uttara.
Vishnu:God; His wife is Lakshmi, Garuda is the vehicle, and wheel (disc) is the weapon.
Yudhishtira:Eldest of Pandavas. Propagator of Dharma, son of Pandu and Kunti.
Yuyutsu:Dritarashtra was the father, name of mother unknown, tried to avoid war.
Important characters of Mahabharat

The Amshavatarana mainly described the reasons and causes for the birth or rebirth of various characters, as per credits of sins or virtues earned in the previous life of the respective characters. Yudhishtira had born with the boon of the angel of Yama, who is the master of Dharma also. From Vayu, Bhima; from Indra, Arjuna; and from the health provider twin angels, Ashvini Kumars, Nakula and Sahadev had born on this earth. More than one thousand names could be seen in the Mahabharat but only a few have been listed above.

अर्थ शास्त्रमिदं पुण्यं धर्म शास्त्रमिदं परम् ।
मोक्ष शास्त्रमिदं प्रोक्तं व्यासेनामित बुद्धिना ॥

Meaning: This is the economic science, which grants virtues and wealth on reading or hearing. This is the science, which grants supreme Dharma on its reading or hearing. This is the science, which grants liberation for the soul on its reading or hearing. It is told by Veda Vyasa Rishi, who possessed unlimited intelligence.

धन्यं यशस्यं पुत्रीयमायुश्यं विजयावहं ।
इदमंशावतरणं श्रोतव्यमनसूयता ॥

Meaning: Those who read or hear this Amshavataranam without any jealousy, or with purity in heart, would be blessed by God, with wealth, victory, success in their works, good health with longevity, and appreciable family life. 

On reading this story, children would gain more memory power.

Next post, Mahabharat: Sambhava parva may not be missed.

 Mahabharat: Jatugriha parva would be presented separately in another article.

 Readers may share this story with children, friends and family.

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